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How Dependent on Instant Online Data Access Are We?

D. Todd Smith
Try accessing any number of court-related websites right now, and you may be diverted to the following landing page: A Tuesday evening power outage took down Office of Court Administration servers, and OCA has had difficulty bringing them back up. Meanwhile, scores of lawyers across the state went into panic as they were unable to instantly … Continue Reading

Demystifying Appellate Law on The Law Entrepreneur

D. Todd Smith
Solo and small firm lawyers, if you’re into podcasts and haven’t checked out The Law Entrepreneur, you should. Maryland lawyer Neil Tyra has put together 69 episodes (so far) of great conversation with lawyers, tech consultants, and other professionals offering insight into the entrepreneurial side of modern-day law practice. The main reason I know exactly how … Continue Reading

[Tap…Tap…Tap] Is This Thing On?

D. Todd Smith
After a decade of blogging, I’m still amazed how one simple post can spin off new opportunities. Back in November, I wrote about how I’m using my iPad Pro during oral arguments. As a direct result of that post, I was: featured on iPhone JD (a site I highly recommend to anyone using iPhones or iPads in their … Continue Reading

More on iPads and Appellate Arguments

D. Todd Smith
Happy New Year! After seeing my recent post on how I’m using my iPad Pro for appellate arguments, the good folks at the Texas Bar Journal asked if I’d like to publish a version of it in print. That version appears in the just-released January issue, an electronic copy of which is available here. I’ve since … Continue Reading

How I’m Using My iPad Pro for Appellate Arguments

D. Todd Smith
I just completed my second Fifth Circuit argument using my big iPad Pro in a more prominent role than ever before. Inspired by Jeff Richardson’s post about how he used an iPad to prepare for and present an appellate argument, I thought I’d share how I’ve integrated the device into my preparation and presentation strategy. Documents … Continue Reading

Continuing to Evolve

D. Todd Smith
Readers may have noticed some changes around here. Allow me to tie them together with a brief explanation. New Design More and more users are accessing the internet through smartphones or tablets—a trend that is sure to continue. My friends at LexBlog have thus rebuilt the site to be mobile-friendly. I am very pleased with the simple … Continue Reading

Arbitration in Attorney Fee Agreements After Royston v. Lopez

I had the pleasure of briefing and presenting argument to the Texas Supreme Court in Royston, Rayzor, Vickery & Williams, LLP v. Lopez (Nos. 13–1026 and 14–0109, opinion available here), a case dealing with the enforceability of arbitration clauses between attorneys and clients. Earlier this week, I participated in a webcast about the case titled “Engagement Letters/Arbitration … Continue Reading

Social Media for Lawyers—and Judges

D. Todd Smith
Yesterday, I spoke to a group of appellate lawyers and judges about social media. For anyone interested, my presentation slides appear below. I always learn something new when preparing to give a CLE presentation. In this instance, it was interesting to look at Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and similar outlets from a judge’s perspective. Here are … Continue Reading

Old-School Legal Researchers: ThomsonWest Is Shuttering Westlaw Classic—and Soon

D. Todd Smith
It’s been five years since ThomsonReuters (then ThomsonWest) launched WestlawNext and re-branded the legal research database many lawyers grew up on as “Westlaw Classic.” I received notice yesterday that my firm’s access to the old version will cease at the end of March, leaving WestlawNext as the only option available under our contract. This is … Continue Reading

Texas Appellate Courts Get a Major Website Upgrade

D. Todd Smith
If you’ve received CaseMail updates this week, you’ve likely noticed something new when clicking on the link embedded in your notification emails. Last Friday, the Texas appellate courts got a major online upgrade with the launch of the new and improved txcourts.gov site. The new site is very user-friendly and much more pleasing to the eye than the … Continue Reading

Are Lawyer-Hyperlinked Briefs Headed for Extinction?

D. Todd Smith
When used appropriately, hyperlinks to specific portions of the record or to on-point authorities can be a very effective tool in the appellate lawyer’s arsenal. But are recent developments enhancing that tool or effectively taking it away? Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit standardized the format for citing electronic official … Continue Reading

State Bar Appellate Section Launches Redesigned Website

D. Todd Smith
As co-chair of the State Bar of Texas Appellate Section’s Website Committee, I am pleased to share that the Section’s completely revamped website is now live at www.tex-app.org. The redesigned site allows visitors easy access to information about the Appellate Section, including the latest news and upcoming events, a searchable membership directory, and details about … Continue Reading

I, Juror No. 3

D. Todd Smith
Since I became a practicing lawyer, I’ve been called for jury duty four times: twice in Dallas County (where I lived from 1997 to 2003), and twice in Travis County (where I live now). This past week, I served my second stint as an actual juror. My first experience as a juror was in Dallas. … Continue Reading

Ralph H. Brock, 1948-2013

D. Todd Smith
I was saddened to learn that Ralph Brock—the first chair of the State Bar Appellate Section and one of my predecessors as editor of The Appellate Advocate—passed away on July 14, 2013. Ralph was extremely personable and was in many ways ahead of his time. In recent years, he served as chair of the State Bar … Continue Reading

Word-Count Rules Going Into Effect December 1

D. Todd Smith
A trial lawyer poses the following question: Do you know for sure whether the new appellate rules are going into effect December 1? Any thoughts on whether an appeal filed on November 29 (but not actually due until December 3) should maintain the old format or use the new rule? Per this Texas Supreme Court … Continue Reading

SCOTX Adopts Word-Count Rule

D. Todd Smith
The Texas Supreme Court has issued an order incorporating word counts into the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure. The order amends Rules 9, 38, 49, 52, 53, 55, 64, 68, 70, and 71. Some highlights of the amendments include (for computer-generated briefs in civil cases): a minimum 14-point font (12-point for footnotes); a 15,000-word limit … Continue Reading

Lone Star Lawyers Converging on Houston for SBOT12

D. Todd Smith
I will soon be departing for Houston to attend the 2012 State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting.  This will be my third straight year to attend and my second year as a presenter. On Thursday, as part of the Computer and Technology Section’s “Adaptable Lawyer” track, Don Cruse and I will give a talk entitled … Continue Reading

Video of SCOTX CLE Event Now Online

D. Todd Smith
Thanks to the efforts of Texas Supreme Court Clerk and Austin Bar Civil Appellate Law Section Council member Blake Hawthorne, video of the recent “Evening with the Texas Supreme Court” event is now available for viewing through the Court’s webcast page. I was honored to moderate this discussion as chair of the ABA Section and … Continue Reading

Tom Mighell on iPad for Litigators

D. Todd Smith
I recently had the privilege of hearing legal technology consultant Tom Mighell make his “iPad for Litigators” presentation to the Austin Bar Association’s Civil Litigation.  Texas lawyers may know Tom from his days as a litigator with Dallas firm Cowles & Thompson.  He has authored an excellent legal tech blog, Inter Alia, for several years. I … Continue Reading

Hedges and Hawthorne to Speak on New TAMES System

D. Todd Smith
On March 29, 2012, Fourteenth Court of Appeals Chief Justice Adele Hedges and Texas Supreme Court Clerk Blake Hawthorne will speak to the Austin Bar Civil Appellate Law Section on "The Texas Appeals Management and E-filing System: Making Our Appellate Courts More Efficient and Transparent." This talk goes along with an article Blake published in the most … Continue Reading

Solo/Small Firm Section CLE Set for 2/23

D. Todd Smith
As immediate past chair of the Austin Bar Association Solo/Small Firm Section, my main responsibility is to organize and run a half-day CLE program the Section puts on each year.  We have put together what I think will be an outstanding program that will educate attendees on a number of subjects relevant to solos and small … Continue Reading

SCOTX to Hold Hearing on Uniform E-Filing System

D. Todd Smith
This afternoon at 2:00, the Texas Supreme Court will hold a public hearing to explore the feasibility of a statewide uniform system for electronic court filings.  The hearing will take place in the Supreme Court Courtroom and will be webcast live here. The Court is considering whether Texas ought to implement a system modeled to … Continue Reading
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